A Level grades take the biggest plunge on record

A Level clearing frenzy is expected tomorrow as grades take the biggest plunge on record in a return to pre-Covid results – with an estimated 100,000 fewer entries to be awarded A or A*

  • Around 250,000 youngsters will receive their A-level results on Thursday
  • Students urged to have a ‘Plan B’ in place should they not get their first choice

A-level pupils will be plunged into a clearing frenzy tomorrow as top grades take the biggest plunge on record. 

An estimated 100,000 fewer entries will be awarded A or A* compared with last year after officials reined in grade inflation by introducing tougher boundaries. 

Sixth-formers across the country will pick up their results at the end of a two-year government move to return to pre-Covid grading. 

The current cohort were among those who, on the whole, had higher grades than normal when their GCSE were graded by their teachers during the pandemic. 

Around 250,000 anxious youngsters will find out if they have the A-level grades for their offered place at university, according to analysis by help group dataHE. 

An estimated 100,000 fewer A or A* grades will be awarded this year in a return to pre-Covid grading (file photo)

Around 250,000 youngsters are due to receive their A-level results tomorrow (file photo)

If they fall short, they will join the estimated 26,000 with no offer who are already battling to find a spot in clearing. 

An unusual boom in the number of 18-year-olds this year and a plethora of places offered to international students means school-leavers will face possibly the toughest ever fight for a university spot. 

They were urged to prepare a Plan B should they miss out on a place at their preferred institution. 

Vivienne Stern, chief executive of Universities UK, said: ‘For most students, you’re going to get your first or insurance offer but it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan.’ 

The number of top A-level grades awarded to pupils surged in 2020 and 2021 because results were based on teacher assessments. 

Exam boards were more lenient last year to reflect the learning lost during the pandemic. 

But this year grading has returned to pre-Covid standards though there is some protection for students against the impact of Covid disruption. 

Those who lose their place will be forced to use clearing – the system which matches unplaced students with left-over course places. 

A sample of 130 of the UK’s largest higher education providers showed there are currently fewer courses available to students than last year. 

There are just 22,521 courses with vacancies for undergraduate students living in England, analysis of the UCAS clearing site found. 

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, said tomorrow ‘will be the one of the most nerve-racking days in recent university admissions history’. 

He added: ‘So much is at stake for so many young people who have faced such hardship and uncertainty over recent years.’ 

Nick Hillman, of the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank, said: ‘People who do not get the grades they need would be wise to act really fast to find the best alternative. 

‘It is always a good idea to act quickly but doubly so this year, given the shortage of places in clearing at many institutions. 

‘They also need to find their student accommodation swiftly as some cities are running dry.’ 

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, suggested 10 per cent of grades will be an A* and around 27.5 per cent will be an A. 

This means around 100,000 fewer marks will hit these top grades compared to last year, which itself saw the biggest slump on record. 

A larger than usual cohort of 18-year-olds as well as universities offering a high number of places to international students are among reasons for an expected frenzy on Thursday

Dr Mark Corver, of dataHE, said: ‘There is more uncertainty with grades, the Government has said it plans to return to pre-pandemic levels which, if acted upon, would mean an unprecedented drop in high grades.’ 

But Education Secretary Gillian Keegan urged pupils to stay positive, insisting: ‘For many, this will have been the first set of formal exams they have ever taken, having faced unprecedented circumstances in the years building up to this summer. 

‘I know young people will have risen to the challenge, and thousands will get the results they need to take hold of their future, whether at university, through an apprenticeship or in the world of work. 

‘There are more options than ever before and a huge amount of support available, whether pupils get the results they wanted or not.’ 

A UCAS spokesman said: ‘This year has seen a return to normal for students doing exams and exam grading has been known since last year, enabling universities and colleges to make their offers on that basis. 

‘There are nearly 28,000 courses in clearing for students to discover and choose from.’ 

Source: Read Full Article